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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The University of Utah gets a "C" for its efforts to enroll poor and minority students, according to a new national report.
Released this week, the Education Trust report shows a decline in the percentage of eligible students getting into the university and a drop in the number of disadvantaged students who complete a degree.
The trust is a nonprofit advocacy group that seeks to close the achievement gaps separating low-income and minority students from other student groups.
The report gives letters grades for overall performance in access and student success to the flagship universities in each of the 50 states.
Eight states got failing grades on the report card. Another 24 were graded D, and 14 states earned C's. Only four schools earned B's. No A grades were awarded.
Utah's overall grade was C. The state earned a C for low-income access, a B for minority access and a B for minority success.
"I think we're losing ground across the board, not just with minority students but with the overall decline in the number of students we have completing degrees," said David Doty, assistant commissioner of higher education in Utah. "I think it is fair to say that we all need to be a doing a better job."
About 2,540 of the 22,000 undergraduates at the university are classified as disadvantaged students.
Of Utah's high school graduates in 2004, 8 percent were from minority groups. But minorities accounted for only 6.5 percent of the university's freshman class.
Data also shows that while 41 percent of white students complete degrees within six years, only 34 percent of low-income and minority students finish in the same time frame.
Theresa Martinez, assistant vice president for academic outreach at the U., attributes the drop in minority and low-income students to an achievement gap that starts early in the education process. Most are on non-college tracks or are under-prepared for the higher education system, she said.
Doty said a minority education task force is working on recommendations to increase enrollment by looking at pre-college preparation, academic support, mentoring and financial aid.
------ Information from: The Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)